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The Rise of Indian-Americans In U.S. Business

Indian-Americans, who account for only about 1 percent of the U.S. population, have ascended to a disproportionately influential position in American medicine, academia, corporations and especially the high-tech sector.

Since 1965, when U.S. immigration laws were relaxed, hundreds of thousands of Indian students, engineers, doctors, accountants and other highly educated professionals arrived in the country and subsequently formed a brand-new elite of sorts in just one generation.

Some of these well-educated Indians came from one of the Indian Institutes of Technology, which are known for being some of the world’s top engineering colleges — so it’s not a surprise that Indians also started to migrate to the U.S. during the 1980s tech boom.

Indian “tech pioneers,” include Vinod Dham, who created breakthrough technologies such as the Pentium chip, and entrepreneurs like Kanwal Rekhi and Vinod Khosla, who co-founded companies like Excelan and Sun Microsystems.


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The San Jose Mercury News reported in late November that Asian-Americans (which include Indians) comprise more than one-half (52 percent) of the technology workforce in the Bay Area. Between 2000 and 2010 the Asian proportion of tech workers jumped from 39 percent to 52 percent.

Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, Indian-Americans occupy an exalted place in U.S. business, science and technology.

A 2012 American Community Survey showed that of an estimated 3.05 million Indian-Americans living in the U.S., 72 percent of them had graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 66 percent were employed in professional or managerial specialties.

Indeed, in today’s economy, there are currently 9 Indian-American CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, while Forbes recently reported that Indians start more companies than any other immigrant group in six states around the country.

As if to underscore this phenomenon, less than two months ago, Indian-born Satya Nadella was named Microsoft Corp.’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) chief executive officer, making him one of the most powerful tech executives on the planet.

Nadella joins a select circle of other Indian leaders of major global corporations, including Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP); Ajay Banga, the chief of MasterCard (NYSE:MA); and Anshu Jain, the co-CEO of Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB).

Other Indian CEOs of major U.S. companies include Francisco D’Souza of Cognizant Technology Solutions (NASDAQ:CTSH); Sanjay Mehrotra of SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK); Ravichandra Saligram of OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX); Dinesh C. Paliwal of Harman International Industries (NYSE:HAR) and Shantanu Narayen of Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE).

”It’s not a surprise that we’re seeing Indians rise in corporate ranks,” said Richard Herman, co-author of a book entitled “U.S., Immigrant Inc.,” to Forbes. “Of all the immigrant groups coming in today, Indians are head-and-shoulders above others, and this is partly because of their English-language skills and also the advanced education that many of them are bringing to the U.S.”

In the latest innovation in technology, cloud-computing has indisputably become a major driving force for the industry – and many enterprise-cloud start-ups are founded by Indian-Americans. Take a look at the Infographic (created by TiEcon) for more highlights on the importance of Indian-Americans in today’s business world.

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